The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, March 28, 2005

Response mixed over Roanoke's new Art Museum

I haven't blogged about this yet, but apparently it has become a pretty big deal. Roanoke recently unveiled plans to build a brand new Art Museum of Western Virginia and the plans are bold to say the least. The concept has received an outpouring of response, both positive and negative, from the community. The Roanoke Times has done a big series on it and has invited debate.

Incidentally, I take umbrage with the idea that Roanoke has no central, unifying landmark. Hellooooo! Star City of the South, people! But even I admit that people don't exactly drive from hundreds of miles away to see a big electric star on a hill. Frankly, some people don't want outsiders finding out about Roanoke because they figure they've got it pretty good and they don't feel like sharing the secret. I can't say that I blame them, but perhaps a new direction is a good thing for a city that sometimes seems stuck in its past glory days as a railroad center. That said, I have always enjoyed Roanoke's quaint market area and I'm not sure a drastic departure from that is warranted. Furthermore, the fact that the Roanoke Times seems so firmly supportive of the idea automatically gives me pause. That's not to say I oppose the whole thing, just perhaps the location.

RiverCity Rapids has a good analysis of the project here and contrasts Roanoke's willingness to take risks with the foot-dragging of their Richmond-area couterparts. Still, I wouldn't be so quick to praise Roanoke's forward-thinking. After all, they still haven't figured out that Victory Stadium mess.


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